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All the best collegiate cross country action was concentrated in Division II over the weekend as that level contested their conference championships.
Here were five takeaways from DII's conference weekend:
Colorado Mines Men Crush Adams State and Western Colorado With Six In Top Ten
The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference meet (RMAC), the deepest DII conference cross country race, is annually an NCAA litmus test. The team champion often has an inside step on the rest of the country for nationals. (Although, due partly to resting and the competitiveness of the league overall, the last four men’s RMAC champs have failed to win NCAAs.) If this year’s race is any indication, the No. 1-ranked Colorado Mines men took a giant leap over everyone else by thoroughly dismantling conference foe Adams State 28-73 on Saturday in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Led by individual champion Dylan Ko, who is only a sophomore, the Orediggers put all five of their scorers in the top nine and six in the top ten to crush No. 3 Adams and previously No. 2 Western Colorado. Western finished third with 76 points.
Ko took over the lead in the last kilometer and dominated from there, gapping runner-up Taylor Stack of Western Colorado by nearly ten seconds to win the 8k race in 23:20. Stack was fifth at NCAAs in 2018.
Adams State did not have senior All-American Kale Adams in their lineup, but that hardly would have made a difference against the Mines' onslaught. The Orediggers put their first four ahead of Adams State’s top finisher, Dane Blomquist (eighth).
With a low stick up front (Ko) and an abundance of depth-- CSM had seven in the top 17-- all the pieces are there for Mines to run away with the national title in Sacramento on Nov. 23. For a team that lost their top three from 2018’s runner-up squad, that’s mighty impressive work by coach Chris Siemers and co.
Adams State Women Go 1-2-3 En Route To Scant 21-Point Tally
What a season debut it was for Stephanie Cotter of Adams State, as the super sophomore upset teammate and FloXC No. 1 Eilish Flanagan to win the RMAC women’s individual title in 19:40 over the 6k trek.
Congratulations to @ASUGrizzlies Stephanie Cotter, the unofficial winner of the 2019 #RMACxc Women’s Cross Country Championship! #ChampionshipsElevated #EverythingElevated @FloTrack pic.twitter.com/M6DTy3Bpip— RMAC Sports (@RMAC_SPORTS) October 26, 2019
Cotter’s defeat over the previously undefeated Flanagan led to a 1-2-3 sweep for the Grizzlies, who got a third place finish out of Eilish’s twin sister Roisin. ASU wrapped up an easy conference crown with their final two scorers in seventh and eighth to blow out runner-up Colorado Mines 21-60.
As much as the winningest women’s program in NCAA cross country history can make a statement, Adams State did so with their performance at RMAC. Both Cotter and Roisin Flanagan debuted this weekend, and their first and third place finishes make the 18-time national champions look unbeatable heading into November. The individual title could very well come down to Eilish, DII’s top returner, and Cotter, the reigning 1500m and mile national champ, with Roisin giving ASU a shot at three in the top ten.
GVSU Teams Keep Streaking
For the 18th consecutive season, the Grand Valley State cross country teams swept the GLIAC Championships on Saturday in Westville, Indiana. The No. 2-ranked women’s squad scored just 17 points for the third straight year, sweeping the top four places led by senior Allie Ludge’s individual win in 21:23. For the GVSU women, it was their fourth straight race winner at the event. Second place Saginaw Valley was well back with 89 points.
Your women’s 6K champion, Allie Ludge! pic.twitter.com/Y3O6hVE5LB— GVSU Track and Field (@GVSU_XC_TF) October 26, 2019
The No. 4-ranked men had a much tighter battle on their hands with Saginaw Valley, but they managed to squeak out a 44-57 win thanks in large part to Tanner Chada’s 23:55 conference title. The sophomore has lost just once to DII competition this season.
Meet champion, Tanner Chada, in disbelief after finishing 19 seconds ahead of the runner-up! 🥇 pic.twitter.com/BMqBy3opGg— GVSU Track and Field (@GVSU_XC_TF) October 26, 2019
U-Mary Senior Ida Narbuvoll Wins NSIC By 84 Seconds
There wasn’t much to be learned from the women’s NSIC Championships in Wayne, Nebraska, as pre-race favorites Augustana (S.D.) men and U-Mary women easily won conference titles as expected. Instead, it was U-Mary senior Ida Narbuvoll’s huge individual win that stood out above everything else. Narbuvoll crossed the women’s 6k finish line first in 20:56, spectacular only because the next woman across, U-Mary teammate Kayla Ogle, was 1:24 back in 22:20.
My favorite part of that video is when Narbuvoll appears like she’s going to look back to see who’s coming behind her and then (probably) remembers that she’s got some time before that happens.
Narbuvoll has been doing this all season. Three of her wins have been by 56 seconds or more. Call it weak competition, but the Norwegian can count several DII All-Americans among her scalps in 2019.
Gidieon Kimutai Is The Big NCAA Favorite
The NCAA DII men’s individual title race will have a massive favorite in four weeks time as Missouri Southern sophomore Gidieon Kimutai, the top returner from 2018, thrashed the MIAA conference on Saturday with a 23:37 8k. Kimutai won by 22.5 seconds to bump his average margin of victory this season over 12 seconds.
Top 3 men’s finishers at the MIAA XC Championship: 1. Gidieon Kimutai of @mososports (23:37.25), 2. Jhordan Cope of @bearcatsports (23:59.05) and 3. Karim Achengli of @bearcatsports (24:16.08) #BringYourAGame pic.twitter.com/WW3eyzXUtk— MIAA (@TheMIAA) October 26, 2019
The Kenyan’s only close race this season was a one-second victory over Grand Valley State All-American Tanner Chada, who himself won the GLIAC conference meet by over 15 seconds on Saturday. One of the pitfalls of DII is that contenders often don’t meet until nationals, but Kimutai’s resume is strong enough to suggest he’s the man to beat in Sacramento.